After lower courts repeatedly shot down Donald Trump’s travel ban for unfairly targeting Muslims from certain countries, the Supreme Court allowed a revised version as of Monday, June 26, 2016. The decision all but allows Trump to now boast a victory. The travel ban affects travelers from six countries that are predominantly Muslim.
The Supreme Court’s decision leaves far more questions than answers regarding Trump’s travel ban. Essentially, certain foreign nationals can be banned entry into the United States if they lack a bona fide relationship with a person or an entity in the country. It does not apply to anyone, including refugees, who have existing relationships with American citizens or entities, such as if they have family in America or a relationship with an educational institution.
Supreme Court justices claimed that the lower courts were wrong in completely disallowing the travel ban, which bans giving new visas to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The ban holds for 90 days and puts a hold on the refugee program for a period of 120 days.
What the Supreme Court has done is to limit the stay of the Muslim travel ban to those who do not have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. It is important to note that this decision must be narrowly construed and properly implemented. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the State Department must establish clear guidance for officers and the public to understand exactly how the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling will be interpreted. We have a real concern that CBP officers may implement this far more broadly than the court’s ruling allows and our members and partners will be watching carefully to see what transpires.
The Supreme Court’s decision was 9-0 and Trump’s travel ban was slated to go into effect 72 hours after being approved. However, oral arguments on the ban’s merits will be heard in October 2017, during the first session term. It is expected that arguments in the case will include the subject of religious discrimination as the ban applies only to foreign nationals of six specific countries who are Muslim. Other questions may also arise as Trump has no business connections to any of those said countries. Countries in which he has business interests, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are not included in the travel ban.
Once the oral arguments are heard by the Supreme Court, visa vetting procedures will have already taken place after being reviewed by the Trump administration. This means that the circumstances can be very different by that time and that Trump could extend the travel ban or make it a permanent thing.
According to Leon Fresco, the deputy assistant attorney general for the office of immigration litigation during President Barack Obama’s term stated that Trump’s travel ban affects two different categories of people who lack ties to the United States. One category involves individuals looking to acquire visitor visas and the other is those who attempt to get visas through a government lottery from countries that traditionally have low rates of immigration to the U.S.
The State Department didn’t comment on how many people would be affected by the travel ban. However, it is believed that anyone who has a job offer, a family member living in the U.S. or a school acceptance letter would probably be able to travel without issue and get a visa.
There has been much criticism of Trump’s travel ban. Amnesty International, for instance, warned that there would be dire consequences at airports and that the ban’s enforcement would “tear families apart.” Others believe it’s discriminatory and threatens vulnerable individuals who desperately want to enter the U.S.